Easton in the Service – A New Year, A New Series!

The theme of the Historical Society of Easton’s upcoming 2021 series is service to country, featuring people who were either from Easton when they served, or lived here afterwards. Many soldiers returning from WWII and Korea ended up moving to Easton where they raised their families. We want to hear and share their memories.

Real military personnel from Fairfield were used in this 1942 promotional photograph taken on Fairfield Beach

Over the years, scores of young men and women have answered the call to duty when it came to serving the needs of their country. More served in times of conflict than in times of peace, but a ready military force in peacetime has often deterred conflict. It is our goal to tell some of the stories of those who served. We hope to share the good experiences as well as the sad. For those who have never served, it is important to hear the reasons why so many did. Some will likely be surprised that so many former service members fondly remember, and actually cherish, the bonds they made and the life lessons they learned while serving their country. Some more than they do the memories of all the hardships they endured during their military campaigns. Perhaps it is the human spirit that puts a positive spin on some aspects of war even during the darker hours witnessed in times of conflict.

The 20th century saw the first women serve in the United States military. Many were pioneers, first serving in support capacities and later in the century joining their male counterparts as warriors. They drove ambulances in WWI, ferried aircraft in WWII, and flew fighter jets on sorties over the Middle East. We want to know who they were and what they accomplished.

But service to country doesn’t always entail a tour of duty in the armed forces. It can include service here at home. Volunteer work for organizations such as the Red Cross and the USO were important components in supporting our troops here and abroad. During both WWI and WWII, many women joined the workforce and took over jobs previously only held by men. They assembled aircraft and made munitions. Without their efforts, there is simply no way that American soldiers, sailors, and airmen could have prevailed. Older men and women joined the Civil Defense. Women organized food drives, made bandages, and planted and cultivated “Victory Gardens”. Men too old to actively serve as warriors often patrolled and guarded vulnerable targets such as dams and power stations and many became spotters looking for enemy aircraft.

Woman working on the assembly line building a Corsair F4-U at Vought-Sikorsky in Stratford in 1943. The Corsair was the aircraft that won the skies in the Pacific Theater in WWII.

At the Historical Society of Easton, we have far too few details on those in our community who served. It is our goal during the coming year to amass as much new information about those people as we can and to then share some of the more interesting stories here in the Courier.

We began this process about a month ago, and thus far, we have received more than a dozen responses, some that include a wealth of information and personal stories. All our WWI veterans are now gone, and most of the folks who served in WWII have also passed. Korean and Vietnam era vets are aging, so we are quickly losing our best opportunity to gather first-hand knowledge of our more recent ancestors who have either served in the military or have experienced the hardships endured during times of conflict.

We are asking all our readers to provide us with any information you may have. Any year; any service; any war, including peacetime. Personal stories are especially welcome. Putting a human face on our service personnel will help future generations understand why the American spirit has prevailed for as long as it has. Even short bios with single photos are welcome. They will become part of our permanent military files. Simply putting a face to a name can be an important contribution, aiding those who contact the Society fifty or a hundred years from now looking for some information about their two or three-time great grandparents. We can only preserve and share what we are given.

Scanned photographs are preferred over photographs of photographs. They are higher resolution and almost always provide the sharper images needed when publishing in a venue such as the Courier. Images and stories can be emailed to me at hsectresearch@gmail.com.

Soldiers spending a final New Year’s Eve at home before going off to war. December 31,1941

Have a happy and safe New Year everyone!

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